Today is a special day on the calendar of many Australians. Today is our national holiday – Australia Day. It was on this day in 1788 that the first European settlers arrived at Botany Bay, near Sydney. The First Fleet, a contingent of ships carrying soldiers and convicts, landed to establish the first non-indigenous settlement in what was to become Australia.
Many in modern Australia have mixed feelings about the celebration of this day, especially our Aboriginal Australians. I do not want to get into a discussion on the merits of these celebrations one way or another. All I wish to do is celebrate this wonderful land in which we live. I want to acknowledge our colourful and diverse birdlife, our beautiful flora and fauna and the amazing landscapes we enjoy.
So, today I do not wish to write very much – just show off some off the photos I have taken over the years as a celebration of this Great Land Down Under.
Have a great day. And I hope you see some wonderful birds, too.
I have been absent from posting new photos and articles on this site for several months.
Sorry about that. Life got in the way.
Earlier this year my wife and I went to Sydney to look after our two very energetic grandchildren during the school holidays. That was fun but also very tiring. On our return, we had many visits to stay with our daughter in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. Over the period of several months, we helped her to pack up all of her belongings. They are now in storage in a shipping container on our property.
She recently flew to Ethiopia to take up a two-year teaching position at an international school in Ethiopia. Although she hasn’t updated in in a while, you can follow her adventures on her site called Rose’s Travel Jottings.
During all this travelling, packing and cleaning I had very few opportunities to go birding. I had even less time to take photos and to write about the birds I was seeing. On top of all that I had computer problems (aaarrrgh) and then another trip to Sydney to care for the grandchildren. We love them dearly, so that is not a hardship, though opportunities to go birding and to do much writing are limited when we are with them.
Life is nearly back to normal, so you can expect more regular posts here in the coming months. I am also planning on publishing regular monthly newsletters with extra articles and information not appearing here on this blog. You can subscribe to this newsletter below.
PS My computer is now back and running okay.
I have written before about how clever crows and ravens can be. This is a well established fact and people around the world have witnessed how intelligent the corvid family can be. In fact, if you do a search for videos of these birds using tools you will find many hundreds of them; I have provided a link below.
Earlier this week I witnessed first hand one of the Little Ravens in our garden actually using a tool to assist in finding food. It had picked up what looked like a flat rock and was progressively using it to prise bark off the trunk of a mallee tree near the house. Once the bark was lifted it dropped the stone and used its beak to grab whatever was hiding beneath the bark.
Spiders, beetles and a whole range of small creatures routinely live under the bark of the local trees. Several times the bird flew down to the ground to retrieve the stone in order to use it again for the same purpose. After about three or four little snacks it flew off, stone in its beak to another tree, this time out of sight.
Of course, I didn’t have my camera handy at the time. [Sigh]
Red Wattlebirds are one of the largest species of honeyeater in Australia. They are also one of the more common species of honeyeater over their range which is southern Australia.
The Red Wattlebird is a resident breeding species in our garden and on our five acre block of mallee scrub here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. We see them every day and we hear them calling throughout the day. During the warmer days they are frequent visitors to our bird baths, bullying most other species away from the water.
Over recent days we have been observing several wattlebirds feeding on the flowers of the Eucalyptus sideroxylon rosea tree in our drive-way. The common name of the tree is Red Iron-bark. I tried to get a photo of one of them feeding on the flowers but they always flew away before I could sneak up within camera range.
So – instead of getting frustrated by my lack of photos of the feeding birds, I have decided to show some photos of the flowers of the trees for your enjoyment.
Happy New Year to all my readers.
Didn’t get to go out to do any birding yesterday. I was too busy preparing for our New Year’s Eve celebrations. Not that we hold wild, unbridled parties – quite the opposite. We invited six close friends to join us for a barbecue and an evening of unbridled anecdotes, jokes, laughter, serious observations on life and plenty of food. It was low key, relaxed and relatively quiet.
Just before midnight we heard the unmistakable call of “our” Australian Owlet-nightjar in the trees in our garden. It was a wonderful ending to a low-key year of birding. The Owlet-nightjar has been a resident species in our garden for several years now. We don’t always hear it calling, especially when the television is on. Another highlight yesterday was the return of the two Superb Fairy-wrens to our garden; they’d been absent for a few weeks.
I didn’t get a photo of the Owlet-nightjar but I did manage one of this normally nocturnal species a few years ago. You can click here to see a photo.